Thailand has become an international hub of trade and commerce, and as a positive, as this may be, there are difficulties that come with the territory. The two we are going to be addressing are fraud and debt recovery.
Regardless of the type of fraud encountered, a skilled lawyer will be able to do the following for their client.
First, we are going to look at what constitutes fraud in Thailand. According to the Thai Penal Code and the Civil and Commercial code, fraud is defined as follows:
“Both Codes state that a person is deemed to have committed fraud by either obtaining property from another person through deception or concealment of facts or by preventing creditors from receiving debt repayments. In addition, provisions found under Sections 352-356 of the Penal Code address crimes involving embezzlement, while Section 39 of the Accounting Act B.E. 2543 (2000) provides criminal liability for those who intentionally make false entries or alter existing entries with fraudulent intent, or neglect to correct false entries.”
As stated above, fraud in Thailand can be either a criminal or civil offense or both depending on the severity, and the punishments can range from fines to imprisonment. Here is a further breakdown of actions considered fraud under Thai law in broad terms:
“If a person conceals information which should be revealed and as a result obtains a property from another party dishonestly”
“Deceives another party and causing this party to execute or destroy a document of right, they are said to have committed a fraudulent act, under Thailand Penal law.”
Civil cases commonly involve property and commercial disputes, personal disputes, employment actions, divorces, wrongful acts as defined by the Thai court system, and the recovery of debts. These types of cases may be settled through mediation and out of court. Usually, this involves reimbursement of funds, suspension from trading, and/or fines.
Criminal acts of fraud are when the Thai authorities become involved, from police, the courts, and the penal system. This is when the services of a criminal lawyer will need to be employed.
The term fraud constitutes a variety of offenses under Thailand law that can be punishable under the Thai Penal Code. Some of these include asset misappropriation, cybercrime, bribery and corruption, identity fraud, insurance, and property fraud.
The punishments for criminal acts of fraud in Thailand can include but are not limited to: imprisonment, fines, and asset forfeiture.
When taking action to file a case of fraud, the correct method is to appoint a lawyer who specialises in both criminal and civil law. A fraud case may be filed either through the Attorney General or via a private lawyer. This should be done as quickly as possible, as with all legal claims.
We discussed fraud earlier and debt recovery does fall under this category. Most cases of debt recovery are filed at the civil level and can be settled under the regulations of such cases.
There are certain exceptions where it may also be prosecuted at a criminal level, where a debtor attempts financial dishonesty.
The following steps may be taken to collect the funds owed by the debtor: Garnishing of the debtor's salary, seizing assets, and selling them off to settle the outstanding amounts. This includes settling additional fees and interest accumulated.
A debtor does have the right to file a bankruptcy claim against a creditor however the outcome will be determined by and is restricted to the Thailand Bankruptcy Court.
Debt recovery happens to Thai nationals, foreigners, local and international companies for a variety of reasons.
After the need for debt recovery has been established, the process can be difficult to complete due to debtors refusing and ignoring multiple attempts to recover the outstanding funds.
This can cause the debt recovery to slow to a crawl as the parties involved have reached a stalemate and no payment towards the debt is being made.
Once this happens, the following steps must be taken:
Legal services must be employed to begin the process of sending a letter of demand to the debtor, failing a response or refusal to pay, the case can then proceed to the litigation phase under fraud law in Thailand.
Gather evidence to prove that a loan was made and not paid back. The type of evidence given depends on the amount of money loaned. If the amount borrowed was 2,000 baht or less, the only evidence needed is that a witness testify that the loan took place. For amounts of 2,000 baht or more, proof of the loan in the form of signed contracts and documents must be presented with the signature of the borrower.
From here litigation can begin in either a civil or criminal setting as advised by the lawyer employed.
A few final points of interest on debt collection in Thailand for a foreigner: debts are not subject to compound interest, meaning that the interest on the original loan does not increase. Debt payments can be made in other currencies, in the amount set by the exchange rate.
Fraud allegations must be taken seriously, and companies and individuals should seek professional advice for handling fraud allegations. Although the legal process can be time-consuming, taking legal action whether defending allegations or having them prosecuted, the correct legal team will make all the difference in securing the best outcome of the case. The same applies to debt recovery, where although it can be a time-consuming and at times ugly process, the correct legal options must be explored with the lawyer handling the litigation.